拾乐园 Paradise Found  
#1【随笔 】   晚秋的麦场             Go Back
昨天晚上看劳伦斯的书信集的时候,忽然有感于他提到的打干草的事情,本来已经遥远而且已经支离破碎的某些印象仿佛清溪里的鱼鳞闪闪烁烁地唤回我的几点印象。麦场本来是农村的东西,就像是草是绿的、花是红的一样自然而然,这一点在很多专门到农村采风的画家的作品里可以看到。城市里是没有麦场的,就连月光也糅合了太多的悲欢离合,清风吹过,哀婉的歌子夹杂在凄清的月光中飘飘缈缈的,满大街的流浪。现在恐怕连农村也很少看见麦场了吧?城市化的蔓延,除了没有造成粮食减产,就像蝗灾一样让人讨厌。几千年面朝黄土背朝天,日出而作,日落而休的日子忽然远去,平时侍弄惯的土地一朝易手,心里那份失落恐怕不是悠闲所能够替代的。寒冷的冬日,穿着厚棉袄蹲在自家门口晒太阳曾经是多么惬意的事,现在一没有了那份闲心,二没有了棉袄,看看太阳都不如以前灿烂明亮。不是感觉,事实如此,工厂包围农村,农村污染严重,谁又能熟视无睹?

有一次出差经过河南农村,时值晚秋,天空湛蓝的让人心跳,远远地眺见几处小村隐约于烟树之中,玲珑可爱。久违的麦场就环绕在小村周围,麦场上星布的麦秸垛静穆在那里,憨憨的仿佛朴素的老农,又透出十分的童趣。这里的麦秸垛的形状大多是地下一个圆柱,上面戴一个圆锥,比较的小巧,不像鲁南的麦秸垛那么高大,但收拾得干净整洁,而且经过刷理,正像一个精心打扮过的小姑娘,从头到脚都让人感到舒服。许是麦收过后已久,麦场是滋生了葱绿的野草,在晚秋的日色里油油的闪着光。叶片几乎是透明的,映衬着皲裂的黑土地,别有一种妩媚。草丛中绝少不了忙碌的蚂蚁,从这棵草到那棵草,从这个裂缝到那个裂缝,很少有悠闲的心情停下来看路边的风景。偶尔还会看见蚱蜢,是打扮得像古代盔甲武士的那一种,披着褐色的斗篷,背上两队宽阔的翅膀,粗壮的大腿紧蹬着地面。一有情况,即展翅飞去,日光下只听见喳喳的摩翅的声音,抬头看时,踪迹已邈。轻轻地来到麦场,怕踩痛了土地皲裂的皮肤,怕惊动了安静的麦秸垛、安静的小草、忙碌的蚂蚁和机警的蚱蜢。心里忽然感到些寂寞,因为安静者自安静,忙碌者自忙碌,我不过是个过客,对于彼此只有陌生。站在麦场上,打望那些小村,茅庐瓦舍,小巷曲折,几缕炊烟,几声货郎的吆喝,何其相似我记忆深处的家乡,然而当他们真实地存在着,我知道所谓记忆就像麦场上的蚱蜢,早晚要飞走的。

秋阳灿烂,风乍起,颇有点寒意。环村站立的黄杨此刻更显萧瑟,乘风而起,纷飞如蝶,。野芳发而幽香,又到了采菊的良辰吧,但我的心情却悠然不起来。因思参加工作以来,倏然五载有余,道德学问无一毫增长,一千五百多个日子竟成虚度!其间树欲静而风不止,喜而怒,怒而哀,哀而乐,固执于方寸之间,戚戚于蝇头小利,心胸愈狭,品格愈卑,良可叹也。皓月东升,银光泄地,水气氤氲,异地的打麦场一时仿佛仙境,陌生而又熟悉。翘首北望,家乡远在关山之外,那一刻,乡情潮涌,恰像雨季里麦场上疯长的青草。
        

#2  Re: 【随笔】 晚秋的麦场             Go Back
有景有情,情景交融。

麦场稻田,村庄竹林,乡间小路,黄昏时院坝里飞舞的蜻蜓,夜里四处传来的蛙鸣,也都是让我感到特别亲切的场景,与我的儿时记忆相连。
--*--*--*--*--*--*--*--*--*--*--*
自得其乐
        

#3  Re: 【随笔】 晚秋的麦场             Go Back
余光中先生曾说,现代社会,要听鸡鸣,只好去《诗经》的韵里去找了。“麦场稻田,村庄竹林,乡间小路,黄昏时院坝里飞舞的蜻蜓,夜里四处传来的蛙鸣”又何尝不是?
        

#4  晚秋的麦场             Go Back
夜兄好文!
读来如临其境. 工业化之后, 乡村是愈加令人向往了.
去年四月在优胜美地, 夜晚面向空旷的山野, 听蛙声四起, 甚是怡然. 不过那样的瞬间与心境都只是昙花一现.

"安静者自安静,忙碌者自忙碌,我不过是个过客,对于彼此只有陌生。站在麦场上,打望那些小村,茅庐瓦舍,小巷曲折,几缕炊烟,几声货郎的吆喝,何其相似我记忆深处的家乡,然而当他们真实地存在着,我知道所谓记忆就像麦场上的蚱蜢,早晚要飞走的。"
妙笔.

劳伦斯的诗也好看. 有闲时贴几首.
        

#5  Re: 晚秋的麦场             Go Back
云兄大安,好久不见。前一阵河南陕北一行,6日的时光抛在路上。至今日回复,已蹉跎了许多日子。远游当归,盖人不能居无定所,犹若浮萍飞蓬,亦不能困守一隅,老死终生。如梁实秋言旅行之趣,人生的真义在于折腾。劳伦斯以大手笔写小文章,文思泉涌,妙笔生花,读来趣味盎然。诗歌,余以为必原文,必素养深厚,必融入环境,方能得其真味。如仅仅寻章摘句,或直译硬译,殊无意味。期待云兄新作,顺祝愉快。
        

#6  晚秋的麦场             Go Back
夜兄实在是太客气了.人生烦忙,上网有时也是一种奢华.

梁实秋的文也喜欢. 他的译著我崇拜得很.
"人生的真义在于折腾". 笑, 真是呢. 我从前是渴望旅行的, 看见这方面的杂书图片眼就发亮.
人到中年,想想必做但尚未完成的事,心绪已然寡淡. 但还是要带孩子看世界的.
其实, 人生一直是人在途中. 当没有气力折腾时, 路也就到了尽头了. :-)

劳伦斯确是大家, 很好的文字.
你说的是. 译出真味不易. 我不过是借别人的文字自娱自乐, 还请多多指正.

谢了.期待夜兄大作. 安好.


Last modified on 06/20/11 10:25
        

#7  晚秋的麦场             Go Back
旅行
梁实秋

我们中国人是最怕旅行的一个民族。闹饥荒的时候都不肯轻易逃荒,宁愿在家乡吃青草啃树皮吞观音土,生怕离乡背井之后,在旅行中流为饿莩,失掉最后的权益 ——寿终正寝。至于席丰履厚的人更不愿轻举妄动,墙上挂一张图画,看看就可以当“卧游”,所谓“一动不如一静”。说穿了“太阳下没有新鲜事物”。号称山川形胜,还不是几堆石头一汪子水?我记得做小学生的时候,郊外踏青,是一桩心跳的事,多早就筹备,起个大早,排成队伍,擎着校旗,鼓乐前导,事后下星期还得作一篇《远足记》,才算功德圆满。旅行一次是如此的庄严!我的外祖母,一生住在杭州城内,八十多岁,没有逛过一次西湖,最后总算去了一次,但是自己不能行走,抬到了西湖,就没有再回来——葬在湖边山上。


古人云:“一生能着几雨屐?”这是劝人及时行乐,莫怕多费几双鞋。但是旅行果然是一桩乐事吗?其中是否含着有多少苦恼的成分呢?


出门要带行李,那一个几十斤重的五花大绑的铺盖卷儿便是旅行者的第一道难关。要捆得紧,要捆得俏,要四四方方,要见棱见角,与稀松露馅的大包袱要迥异其趣,这已经就不是一个手无缚鸡之力的人所能胜任的了。关卡上偏有好奇人要打开看看,看完之后便很难得再复原。“乘兴而来,兴尽而返。”很多人在打完铺盖卷儿之后就觉得游兴已尽了。在某些国度里,旅行是不需要携带铺盖的,好像凡是有床的地方就有被褥,有被褥的地方就有随时洗换的被单,——旅客可以无牵无挂,不必像蜗牛似的顶着安身的家伙走路。携带铺盖究竟还容易办得到,但是没听说过带着床旅行的,天下的床很少没有臭虫设备的。我很怀疑一个人于整夜输血之后,第二天还有多少精神游山逛水。我有一个朋友发明了一种服装,按着他的头躯四肢的尺寸做了一件天衣无缝的睡衣,人钻在睡衣里面,只留眼前两个窟窿,和外界完全隔绝,——只是那样子有些像是KKK,夜晚出来曾经几乎吓死一个人!


原始的交通工具,并不足为旅客之苦。我觉得“滑竿”“架子车”都比飞机有趣。“御风而行,冷然善也,”那是神仙生涯。在尘世旅行,还是以脚能着地为原则。我们要看朵朵的白云,但并不想在云隙里钻出钻进;我们要“横看成岭侧成峰,远近高低各不同,”但并不想把世界缩小成假山石一般玩物似的来欣赏。我惋惜米尔顿所称述的中土有“挂帆之车”尚不曾坐过。交通工具之原始不是病,病在于舟车之不易得,车夫舟子之不易缠,“衣帽自看”固不待言,还要提防青纱帐起。刘伶“死便埋我”,也不是准备横死。


旅行虽然夹杂着苦恼,究竟有很大的乐趣在。旅行是一种逃避,——逃避人间的丑恶。“大隐藏人海,”我们不是大隐,在人海里藏不住。岂但人海里安不得身?在家园也不容易遁迹。成年的圈在四合房里,不必仰屋就要兴叹;成年的看着家里的那一张脸,不必牛衣也要对泣。家里面所能看见的那一块青天,只有那么一大块。取之不尽用之不竭的清风明月,在家里都不能充分享用,要放风筝需要举着竹竿爬上房脊,要看日升月落需要左右邻居没有遮拦。走在街上,熙熙攘攘,磕头碰脑的不是人面兽,就是可怜虫。在这种情形之下,我们虽无勇气披发入山,至少为什么不带着一把牙刷捆起铺盖出去旅行几天呢?在旅行中,少不了风吹雨打,然后倦飞知还,觉得“在家千日好,出门一时难”,这样便可以把那不可容忍的家变成为暂时可以容忍的了。下次忍耐不住的时候,再出去旅行一次。如此的折腾几回,这一生也就差不多了。


旅行中没有不感觉枯寂的,枯寂也是一种趣味。哈兹利特Hazlitt主张在旅行时不要伴侣,因为:“如果你说路那边的一片豆田有股香味,你的伴侣也许闻不见。如果你指着远处的一件东西,你的伴侣也许是近视的,还得戴上眼镜看。”一个不合意的伴侣,当然是累赘。但是人是个奇怪的动物,人太多了嫌闹,没人陪着嫌闷。耳边嘈杂怕吵,整天咕嘟着嘴又怕口臭。旅行是享受清福的时候,但是也还想拉上个伴。只有神仙和野兽才受得住孤独。在社会里我们觉得面目可憎语言无味的人居多,避之唯恐或晚,在大自然里又觉得人与人之间是亲切的。到美国落矶山上旅行过的人告诉我,在山上若是遇见另一个旅客,不分男女老幼,一律脱帽招呼,寒暄一两句。还是很有意味的一个习惯。大概只有在旷野里我们才容易感觉到人与人是属于一门一类的动物,平常我们太注意人与人的差别了。


真正理想的伴侣是不易得的,客厅里的好朋友不见得即是旅行的好伴侣,理想的伴侣须具备许多条件,不能太脏,如嵇叔夜 “头面常一月十五日不洗,不太闷痒不能沐”,也不能有洁癖,什么东西都要用火酒揩,不能如泥塑木雕,如死鱼之不张嘴,也不能终日喋喋不休,整夜鼾声不已,不能油头滑脑,也不能蠢头呆脑,要有说有笑,有动有静,静时能一声不响的陪着你看行云,听夜雨,动时能在草地上打滚像一条活鱼!这样的伴侣哪里去找?
        

#8  Re: 晚秋的麦场             Go Back
云兄好,再读梁先生小品,欣喜何如!鲁迅当年因梁先生言“人性永恒”破口大骂其为“丧家的资本家的乏走狗”,切齿之声言犹在耳,其人虽抱剑作古,临终遗言“一个也不原谅”,惜乎已成风流人物。以今日之事态观之,花鸟虫鱼,柴米油盐,打牌下棋,旅游散步,虽和人性无涉,却是实实在在的人生。鲁迅也说,人必须先活着,生活才有所附丽。身无分文,心忧天下,肉食者谋之,我辈自作逍遥游。不想妄加评论两巨头谁是谁非,亦不能,力有未逮。单说梁先生小品,汪洋恣肆,天上地下,古今中外,小处着手,所见者大,譬如五柳先生《桃花源记》所记,初极狭,才通人,复行数十步,豁然开朗。且其文字简练经济,文白,雅俗,信手拈来,无不精当,风趣风雅,读来芳香满口,令人赞叹。
        

#9  晚秋的麦场             Go Back
夜兄博览群书, 洋洋洒洒, 评得到位. :-)
梁先生的文"风趣风雅,读来芳香满口", 的确是这种感觉. 先前在另处引过<<男人>>一文逗笑, 线上男士纷纷撇清.

鲁迅与梁实秋二人的相貌似乎已为他们各自的文风做了注脚. “丧家的资本家的乏走狗”,我们读书时是要背的, 记忆犹新啊. 梁先生却未骂回去.

鲁迅骂人的确厉害. 另一方面, 他对国人的人性之刻画入木三分. 他的古体诗我喜欢.

顺手引一篇<<活着>>的作者余华的文.
        

#10  Re: 晚秋的麦场             Go Back
30岁之后读鲁迅
余华


写作很奇妙,就像人生一样,一个人也许会在宽广的道路上越走越狭窄,但也可能会在狭窄的道路上越走越宽广,从羊肠小道走到了遥远的天边。先哲说“你们要走窄门”,因为引到灭亡,那门是宽的,路是大的,走的人也多;而引到永生,那门是窄的,路是小的,找着的人也少。这就是我们中国人常说的置之死地而后生。

序言我与鲁迅:“迟到”的缘分

今天的演讲要从鲁迅的小说说起,一些我曾经并不喜欢而现在为之叹服的文章。

鲁迅是什么样的人?从小学到中学的课本中都一直出现的人物。那时的我天真地以为世上的作家只有两个人:一个是毛泽东,一个就是鲁迅。因为他的名字出现的频率太高了,以至于我以为他是仅次于马恩列毛的人物。

但小时候的我,虽然经常流畅地背着他的诗歌、杂文,可并不喜欢,嫌它们太沉闷。我甚至认为他是一个被时代夸大的人物,因为他被戴上了太多的头衔:文学家、思想家……

一直到后来,我已经写了很多年的书。有一位导演想改编鲁迅的小说并拍摄成影片,邀请我做策划。我欣然应允,并由此第一次去买了鲁迅的书:一本精装的《鲁迅小说集》。读了第一篇《狂人日记》,我吓了一跳;等读完《孔乙己》,我告诉导演,你不配改变鲁迅的小说,我也不配做这个策划。因为他及他的小说,应该被所有人所尊敬。于是在30多岁以后我才与鲁迅的小说亲近,我才发现,那个小时候熟悉而不能理解的人物,变得熟悉而伟大。

鲁迅是什么样的人?我想他是这样一种人:任何一个时代的中国人在形容他时都可以用“我们的鲁迅”来开头……

从鲁迅的四部小说说起。

《狂人日记》:“举重若轻”的绝妙

《狂人日记》开头第四行写到狂人发现世界不对了,感到恐怖,是这样描写的:“不然,那赵家的狗,何以看我两眼呢?”短短数语,立即展现出人物的精神状态,像子弹穿透身体,而不是留在身体内,鲁迅语言之锋利,真令人折服。

接下去步步深入,将狂人的癫狂状态显露无疑:如:

“只有廿年以前,把古久先生的陈年流水簿子,踹了一脚,古久先生很不高兴。赵贵翁虽然不认识他,一定也听到风声,代抱不平;约定路上的人,同我作冤对。”

“我捏起筷子,便想起我大哥;晓得妹子死掉的缘故,也全在他。那时我妹子才五岁,可爱可怜的样子,还在眼前。母亲哭个不住,他却劝母亲不要哭;大约因为自己吃了,哭起来不免有点过意不去。”

“过意不去。”轻轻一笔,重若千钧。当语言该重时,反而轻了。举重若轻,这是鲁迅惯有的写作风格。

类似的例子,中外文艺作品中有很多。

如著名表演艺术家卓别林,如何扮演那些半傻不傻的狂人角色呢?有一次,他扮演一个住在旅店的小人物,早上起来对旅店的老板说:“我想要一点点水。”老板说:“好的,但是你要水干什么呢?”“我要用来洗澡。”老板又问:“你昨天睡得可好?”他说:“糟透了,一晚上被一条毛毛虫追着跑。”这也是用了举重若轻的写法。

著名作家莎士比亚也描写过一个“傻子”。在一场戏中,一位群众角色的人物,牵着一条狗出场,对着狗说:“你怎么能随便在饭馆里撒尿,为了救你,我只能说是我撒的,你看我被他们打得鼻青脸肿。”最经典的莫过于莎氏描写一个被诬陷的将军,在被流放到一个荒岛上多年以后,眼睛也瞎了。此时皇帝终于发现错怪了他。当随从来到小岛上将平反诏书给他时,他没有接,却说:“那上面哪怕每一个字都是个太阳,我也看不见了。”轻轻的一笔,就把将军已经看破一切的心境反映出来。看是随意的描写,分量却有千斤重。

蒙田描写的德法战争中,一位法国将军,在战场伤亡惨重的情况下,派遣自己的儿子上战场,结果前线传来消息,他的儿子战死。小说中写到当他听到这个消息时似乎无动于衷,仿佛这个人和自己一点关系也没有。当他再次把自己身边的佣人派到战场上去,又传来佣人也战死的消息时,他立刻倒地身亡。其实他儿子的死对他来说已经到达了所能承受的极限,佣人的死不过轻轻一点,可这一点足以让他毙命。最“重”的时候反而是轻的,但此时的轻比“重”更重。

肖斯塔科维奇的《列宁格勒交响曲》也有异曲同工之妙。这是他在战壕里完成的著名的反法西斯作品。其中一段“侵略者的脚步”,从轻到重,配器从少到多,进而激烈到让人感觉城市快爆炸了,可真正乐曲到达高潮时,却转而用非常柔美抒情的小段来结束乐章。使人们对这最后的优美乐章格外难忘,把那个时代的状态表达到极致。

像鲁迅这样的伟大作家,都善于在小说推向高潮时,反而轻描淡写地一笔带过。冷处理,却更加能把人物的心理状态表现得淋漓尽致。

《孔乙己》:“言简意丰”的技巧

我喜欢《孔乙己》这部作品,它应该是世界短篇小说的典范。鲁迅用非常简洁的语言来描述孔乙己的一生,那几乎是一种散文的笔调,但细节却并未因语言的简练而丧失,相反,它很丰富、很饱满。比如小说开头描写鲁镇的酒店,“做工的人,傍午傍晚散了工,每每花四文铜钱,买一碗酒……靠柜外站着,……只有穿长衫的,才踱进店面隔壁的房子里,要酒要菜,慢慢地坐喝。孔乙己是站着喝酒而穿长衫的唯一的人。”

寥寥数笔,孔乙己的地位、身份、命运,已然在心。

再如:“他们又故意地高声嚷道,‘你一定又偷了人家的东西了!’……孔乙己便涨红了脸,额上的青筋条条绽出,争辩道,‘窃书不算偷……窃书!……读书人的事,能算偷么?’”

最了不起的是小说的结尾。那时孔乙己的腿已经被打断,而此前鲁迅又几次写到孔乙己是如何走到店里来的。于是我很好奇:这次鲁迅要如何写他“走”到店里?因为这是一个必须要写的细节。

“我温了酒,端出去,放在门槛上。他从破衣袋里摸出四文大钱,放在我手里,见他满手是泥,原来他便是用这手走来的。不一会儿,他喝完了酒,便又在旁人的说笑声中,坐着用这手慢慢走去了。”

很短的一部作品,却在丰富的细节描写中,完整展现了孔乙己的悲惨一生。

《风波》:文学作品VS时代背景

同是伟大的作品,有一些长篇巨制是正面面对(或描述)时代的写作,如《战争与和平》、《静静的顿河》、《百年孤独》;也有的是用短篇来反映时代背景的。鲁迅的《风波》就是这样一部作品,它反映的是清末民初张勋复辟那个阶段的事情。且看鲁迅是如何用短篇来反映时代特征的:

七斤因经常往返城里,消息灵通,因此颇受鲁镇人尊敬。他被革命党剃了光头,刚开始还觉得没什么不好,可过不久,又惶惶不安起来,因为听说皇帝又坐了龙庭。

接着便是小说中最经典的人物出场了:

“赵七爷是邻村茂源酒店的主人,又是这30里方圆以内的唯一的出色人物兼学问家;……革命以后,他便将辫子盘在顶上,像道士一般;……七斤嫂眼睛好,早望见今天的赵七爷已经不是道士,却变成光滑头皮,乌黑发顶;伊便知道这一定是皇帝坐了龙庭,而且一定须有辫子……”

这一笔可谓光彩照人。赵七爷的一条辫子,活灵活现地展示了时代的变革和那个时代特有的气象;赵七爷的一条辫子,也生生道出了所有小人物的无奈:变革是上头的事情,小人物没有自主的权利,一个不小心还要人头落地,只能取中庸之道,明哲保身。其实在现实社会,我们很多人依然是“赵七爷”,或多或少有赵七爷的因子。

小说的结尾也很有意思:七斤又从城里回来了,而且气色不错。七斤嫂问他,皇帝坐了龙庭没有?咸亨酒店有人说什么没有?七斤说他没去咸亨酒店,但皇帝一定是不坐龙庭了,因为他经过赵七爷的店前时,看到他的辫子又盘在顶上了……

《故事新编》:正、邪均可述史

历史题材有各种各样的处理方式。我喜欢鲁迅用“邪”的方式来描写历史。他总是找中国历史上最有名的人物,如老子、墨子之类的先圣哲人,调侃一番,却又点出了他们的精髓。如《非攻》一文就把墨子写得活灵活现。楚国要攻打宋国,他明明是鲁国人,却要插手管这事。先看他与公孙高的一番对话:

“‘先生是主张非战的?’‘不错!’墨子说。‘那么,君子就不斗么?’‘是的!’墨子说。‘猪狗尚且要斗,何况人……’‘唉唉,你们儒者,说话称着尧舜,做事却要学猪狗,可怜,可怜!’”

当墨子终于说服楚国不再攻打宋国,并高兴地穿越宋境回鲁国时,却一进宋国界,就被搜检了两回;走近都城,又遇到募捐救国队,募去了破包袱;到得南关外,又遭着大雨,到城门下想避雨,被两个执戈的巡兵赶开了,淋得一身湿,从此“鼻塞了十多天”。

茨威格同样擅长以非正面手法来写史。与鲁迅不同的是,他总是写一个点,因为有时候避雷针的尖端聚集了天空所有的电,于是一个影响深远的决定往往来自于一个日期、一个小时乃至一分钟。

例如茨威格在写拜占庭的陷落时描写的凯卡波尔塔小门。东罗马帝国倾尽全力抵挡敌人的进攻,并胜利在望时,却忘记了有一道专供厨师进出的凯卡波尔塔小门从未设防,结果就是这道小门让土耳其人长驱直入,东罗马帝国崩溃,欧洲历史被改写。

拿破仑的滑铁卢之战同样如此。他兵分两路,一路亲自挂帅,一路任用最忠诚于他的将军格鲁希,此人最大的弱点在于当断不断。当拿破仑被包围时,众多部将皆要求临时改变行军路线,折回先解拿破仑之围,格鲁希却说给他一分钟时间考虑,一分钟后他依然否定了这一建议,最终导致了拿破仑的失败。
        

#11  晚秋的麦场             Go Back
云兄好,余华及茨威格的作品我都曾经拜读过,尤以后者居多。二君皆以情节取胜,窃以为茨威格胜出许多,文字之优美,更不可同日而语。因为没有系统深入的研究,管中窥豹,未见全貌,不敢妄下断语,但洗耳受教,想必获益良多。
        

#12  晚秋的麦场             Go Back
夜兄好. 如此好文字, 读书广博原在意料之中. :-)

所言极是. 茨威格是大师中的大师, 他的作品是读了就放不下的, mind gripping. 大师洞悉人性, 富有良知. 其作品在今日仍富有现实意义.

夜兄可有书评?
        

#13  晚秋的麦场             Go Back
云兄好,有关茨威格的书评俯拾皆是,且不乏精妙者。余既无处置喙,亦何敢鲁班门前掉大斧?怕有负云兄所托了。如有闲暇,贴几篇散文,诗歌,奇文共欣赏,沾些西风雅韵,亦是幸事。顺祝平安。
        

#14  Re: 晚秋的麦场             Go Back
夜兄好笔头, 过谦了. 
多谢, 也祝夜兄平安.

"奇文共欣赏",顺便搬一篇 Letter from an Unknown Woman 英文版本.


Last modified on 07/06/11 22:25
        

#15  Re: 晚秋的麦场             Go Back
Letter from an Unknown Woman (1922)
by Stephan Zweig


R., the famous novelist, had been away on a brief holiday in the mountains. Reaching Vienna early in the morning, he bought a newspaper at the station, and when he glanced at the date was reminded that it was his birthday. "Forty-one!"-the thought came like a flash. He was neither glad nor sorry at the realisation. He hailed a taxi, and skimmed the newspaper as he drove home. His man reported that there had been a few callers during the master's absence, besides one or two telephone messages. A bundle of letters was awaiting him. Looking indifferently at these, he opened one or two because he was interested in the senders, but laid aside for the time a bulky packet addressed in a strange handwriting. At ease in an armchair, he drank his morning tea, finished the newspaper, and read a few circulars. Then, having lighted a cigar, he turned to the remaining letter.



It was a manuscript rather than an ordinary letter, comprising a couple of dozen hastily penned sheets in a feminine handwriting. Involuntarily he examined the envelope once more, in case he might have overlooked a covering letter. But there was nothing of the kind, no signature, and no sender's address on either envelope or contents. " Strange," he thought, as he began to read the manuscript. The first words were a superscription: "To you, who have never known me." He was perplexed. Was this addressed to him, or to some imaginary being? His curiosity suddenly awakened, he read as follows:



* * * *



My boy died yesterday. For three days and three nights I have been wrestling with Death for this frail little life. During forty consecutive hours, while the fever of influenza was shaking his poor burning body, I sat beside his bed. I put cold compresses on his forehead; day and night, night and day, I held his restless little hands. The third evening, my strength gave out. My eyes closed without my being aware of it, and for three or four hours I must have slept on the hard stool. Meanwhile, Death took him. There he lies, my darling boy, in his narrow cot, just as he died. Only his eyes have been closed, his wise, dark eyes; and his hands have been crossed over his breast. Four candles are burning, one at each corner of the bed. I cannot bear to look, I cannot bear to move; for when the candles flicker, shadows chase one another over his face and his closed lips. It looks as if his features stirred, and I could almost fancy that he is not dead after all, that he will wake up, and with his clear voice will say something childishly loving. But I know that he is dead; and I will not look again, to hope once more, and once more to be disappointed. I know, I know, my boy died yesterday. Now I have only you left in the world; only you, who do not know me; you, who are enjoying yourself all unheeding, sporting with men and things. Only you, who have never known me, and whom I have never ceased to love.



I have lighted a fifth candle, and am sitting at the table writing to you. I cannot stay alone with my dead child without pouring my heart out to some one and to whom should I do that in this dreadful hour if not to You, who have been and still are all in all to me? Perhaps I shall not be able to make myself plain to you. Perhaps you will not be able to understand me. My head feels so heavy; my temples are throbbing; my limbs are aching. I think I must be feverish. Influenza is raging in this quarter, and probably I have caught the infection. I should not be sorry if I could join my child in that way, instead of making short work of myself. Sometimes it seems dark before my eyes, and perhaps I shall not be able to finish this letter; but I shall try with all my strength, this one and only time, to speak to you, my beloved, to you who have never known me.

To you only do I want to speak, that I may tell you everything for the first time. I should like you to know the whole of my life, of that life which has always been yours, and of which you have known nothing. But you shall only know my secret after I am dead, when there will be no one whom you will have to answer; you shall only know it if that which is now shaking my limbs with cold and with heat should really prove, for me, the end. If I have to go on living, I shall tear up this letter and shall keep the silence I have always kept. If you ever hold it in your hands, you may know that a dead woman is telling you her life story; the story of a life which was yours from its first to its last fully conscious hour. You need have no fear of my words. A dead woman wants nothing; neither love, nor compassion, nor consolation. I have only one thing to ask of you, that you believe to the full what the pain in me forces me to disclose to you. Believe my words, for I ask nothing more of you; a mother will not speak falsely beside the death-bed of her only child.



I am going to tell you my whole life, the life which did not really begin until the day I first saw you. What I can recall before that day is gloomy and confused, a memory as of a cellar filled with dusty, dull, and cobwebbed things and people-a place with which my heart has no concern. When you came into my life, I was thirteen, and I lived in the house where you live to-day, in the very house in which you are reading this letter, the last breath of my life. I lived on the same floor, for the door of our flat was just opposite the door of yours. You will certainly have forgotten us. You will long ago have forgotten the accountant's widow in her threadbare mourning, and the thin, half-grown girl. We were always so quiet; characteristic examples of shabby gentility. It is unlikely that you ever heard our name, for we had no plate on our front door, and no one ever came to see us. Besides, it is so long ago, fifteen or sixteen years. Impossible that you should remember. But I, how passionately I remember every detail. As if it had just happened, I recall the day, the hour, when I first heard of you, first saw you. How could it be otherwise, seeing that it was then the world began for me? Have patience awhile, and let me tell you everything from first to last. Do not grow weary of listening to me for a brief space, since I have not been weary of loving you my whole life long.



Before you came, the people who lived in your flat were horrid folk, always quarrelling. Though they were wretchedly poor themselves, they bated us for our poverty because we held aloof from them. The man was given to drink, and used to beat his wife. We were often wakened in the night by the clatter of falling chairs and breaking plates. Once, when he had beaten her till the blood came, she ran out on the landing with her hair streaming, followed by her drunken husband abusing her, until all the people came out onto the staircase and threatened to send for the police. My mother would have nothing to do with them. She forbade me to play with the children, who took every opportunity of venting their spleen on me for this refusal. When they met me in the street, they would call me names; and once they threw a snowball at me which was so hard that it cut my forehead. Every one in the house detested them, and we all breathed more freely when something happened and they had to leave-I think the man had been arrested for theft. For a few days there was a " To Let " notice at the main door. Then it was taken down, and the caretaker told us that the flat had been rented by an author, who was a bachelor, and was sure to be quiet. That was the first time I heard your name.



A few days later, the flat was thoroughly cleaned, and the painters and decorators came. Of course they made a lot of noise, but my mother was glad, for she said that would be the end of the disorder next door. I did not see you during the move. The decorations and furnishings were supervised by your servant, the little grey-haired man with such a serious demeanour, who had obviously been used to service in good families. He managed everything in a most businesslike way, and impressed us all very much. A high-class domestic of this kind was something quite new in our suburban flats. Besides, he was extremely civil, but was never hail-fellow-well-met with the ordinary servants. From the outset he treated my mother respectfully, as a lady; and he was always courteous even to little me. When he had occasion to mention your name, he did so in a way which showed that his feeling towards you was that of a family retainer. I used to love good, old John for this, though I envied him at the same time because it was his privilege to see you constantly and to serve you.



Do you know why I am telling you these trifles? I want you to understand how it was that from the very beginning your personality came to exercise so much power over me when I was still a shy and timid child. Before I had actually seen you, there was a halo round your head. You were enveloped in an atmosphere of wealth, marvel, and mystery. People whose lives are narrow, are avid of novelty; and in this little suburban house we were all impatiently awaiting your arrival. In my own case, curiosity rose to fever point when I came home from school one afternoon and found the furniture van in front of the house. Most of the heavy things had gone up, and the furniture removers were dealing with the smaller articles. I stood at the door to watch and admire, for everything belonging to you was so different from what I had been used to. There were Indian idols, Italian sculptures, and great, brightly coloured pictures. Last of all came books, such lovely books, many more than I should have thought possible. They were piled by the door. The manservant stood there carefully dusting them one by one. I greedily watched the pile as it grew. Your servant did not send me away, but he did not encourage me either, so I was afraid to touch any of them, though I should have so liked to stroke the smooth leather bindings. I did glance timidly at some of the titles; many of them were in French and in English, and in languages of which I did not know a single word. I should have liked to stand there watching for hours, but my mother called me and I had to go in.



I thought about you the whole evening, although I had not seen you yet. I had only about a dozen cheap books, bound in worn cardboard. I loved them more than anything else in the world, and was continually reading and rereading them. Now I was wondering what the man could be like who had such a lot of books, who had read so much, who knew so many languages, who was rich and at the same time so learned. The idea of so many books aroused a kind of unearthly veneration. I tried to picture you in my mind. You must be an old man with spectacles and a long, white beard, like our geography master, but much kinder, nicer-looking, and gentler. I don't know why I was sure that you must be handsome, for I fancied you to be an elderly man. That very night, I dreamed of you for the first time.



Next day you moved in; but though I was on the watch I could not get a glimpse of your face, and my failure inflamed my curiosity. At length I saw you, on the third day. How astounded I was to find that you were quite different from the ancient godfather conjured up by my childish imagination. A bespectacled, good-natured old fellow was what I had expected to see; and you came, looking just as you still look, for you are one on whom the years leave little mark. You were wearing a beautiful suit of light-brown tweeds, and you ran upstairs two steps at a time with the boyish ease that always characterises your movements. You were hat in hand, so that, with indescribable amazement, I could see your bright and lively face and your youthful hair. Your handsome, slim, and spruce figure was a positive shock to me. How strange it was that in this first moment I should have plainly realised that which I and all others are continually surprised at in you. I realised that you are two people rolled into one: that you are an ardent, light-hearted youth, devoted to sport and adventure; and at the same time, in your art, a deeply read and highly cultured man, grave, and with a keen sense of responsibility. Unconsciously I perceived what everyone who knew you came to perceive, that you led two lives. One of these was known to all, it was the life open to the whole world; the other was turned away from the world, and was fully known only to yourself. I, a girl of thirteen, coming under the spell of your attraction, grasped this secret of your existence, this profound cleavage of your two lives, at the first glance.



Can you understand, now, what a miracle, what an alluring enigma, you must have seemed to me, the child? Here was a man whom everyone spoke of with respect because he wrote books, and because he was famous in the great world. Of a sudden he had revealed himself to me as a boyish, cheerful young man of five-and-twenty! I need hardly tell you that henceforward, in my restricted world, you were the only thing that interested me; that my life revolved round yours with the fidelity proper to a girl of thirteen. I watched you, watched your habits, watched the people who came to see you-and all this increased instead of diminishing my interest in your personality, for the two-sidedness of your nature was reflected in the diversity of your visitors. Some of them were young men, comrades of yours, carelessly dressed students with whom you laughed and larked. Some of them were ladies who came in motors. Once the conductor of the opera-the great man whom before this I had seen only from a distance, baton in hand-called on you. Some of them were girls, young girls still attending the commercial school, who shyly glided in at the door. A great many of your visitors were women. I thought nothing of this, not even when, one morning, as I was on my way to school, I saw a closely veiled lady coming away from your flat. I was only just thirteen, and in my immaturity I did not in the least realise that the eager curiosity with which I scanned all your doings was already love.



But I know the very day and hour when I consciously gave my whole heart to you. I had been for a walk with a schoolfellow, and we were standing at the door chattering. A motor drove up. You jumped out, in the impatient, springy fashion which has never ceased to charm me, and were about to go in. An impulse made me open the door for you, and this brought me in your path, so that we almost collided. You looked at me with a cordial, gracious, all-embracing glance, which was almost a caress. You smiled at me tenderly-yes, tenderly, is the word-and said gently, nay, confidentially: "Thanks so much."



That was all you said. But from this moment, from the time when you looked at me so gently, so tenderly, I was yours. Later, before long indeed, I was to learn that this was a way you had of looking at all women with whom you came in contact. It was a caressing and alluring glance, at once enfolding and disclothing, the glance of the born seducer. Involuntarily, you looked in this way at every showgirl who served you, at every maidservant who opened the door to you. It was not that you consciously longed to possess all these women, but your impulse towards the sex unconsciously made your eyes melting and warm whenever they rested on a woman. At thirteen, I had no thought of this; and I felt as if I had been bathed in fire. I believed that the tenderness was for me, for me only; and in this one instant the woman was awakened in the half-grown girl, the woman who was to be yours for all future time.



"Who was that?" asked my friend. At first, I could not answer. I found it impossible to utter your name. It had suddenly become sacred to me, had become my secret. "Oh, it's just someone who lives in the house," I said awkwardly. " Then why did you blush so fiery red when he looked at you?" enquired my schoolfellow with the malice of an inquisitive child. I felt that she was making fun of me, and was reaching out towards my secret, and this coloured my cheeks more than ever. I was deliberately rude to her: "You silly idiot," I said angrily-I should have liked to throttle her. She laughed mockingly, until the tears came into my eyes from impotent rage. I left her at the door and ran upstairs.



I have loved you ever since. I know full well that you are used to hearing women say that they love you. But I am sure that no one else has ever loved you so slavishly, with such doglike fidelity, with such devotion, as I did and do. Nothing can equal the unnoticed love of a child. It is hopeless and subservient; it is patient and passionate; it is something which the covetous love of a grown woman, the love that is unconsciously exacting, can never be. None but lonely children can cherish such a passion. The others will squander their feelings in companionship, will dissipate them in confidential talks. They have heard and read much of love, and they know that it comes to all. They play with it like a toy; they flaunt it as a boy flaunts his first cigarette. But I had no confidant; I had been neither taught nor warned; I was inexperienced and unsuspecting. I rushed to meet my fate. Everything that stirred in me, all that happened to me, seemed to be centred upon you, upon my imaginings of you. My father had died long before. My mother could think of nothing but her troubles, of the difficulties of making ends meet upon her narrow pension, so that she had little in common with the growing girl. My schoolfellows, half-enlightened and half-corrupted, were uncongenial to me because of their frivolous outlook upon that which to me was a supreme passion. The upshot was that everything which surged up in me, all which in other girls of my age is usually scattered, was focussed upon you. You became for me-what simile can do justice to my feelings? You became for me the whole of my life. Nothing existed for me except in so far as it related to you. Nothing had meaning for me unless it bore upon you in some way. You had changed everything for me. Hitherto I had been indifferent at school, and undistinguished. Now, of a sudden, I was the first. I read book upon book, far into the night, for I knew that you were a book-lover. To my mother's astonishment, I began, almost stubbornly, to practise the piano, for I fancied that you were fond of music. I stitched and mended my clothes, to make them neat for your eyes. It was a torment to me that there was a square patch in my old school-apron (cut down from one of my mother's overalls). I was afraid you might notice it and would despise me, so I used to cover the patch wit my satchel when I was on the staircase. I was terrified lest you should catch sight of it. What a fool I was! You hardly ever looked at me again.



Yet my whole day was spent in waiting for you and watching you. There was a judas in our front door, and through this a glimpse of your door could be had. Don't laugh at me, dear. Even now, I am not ashamed of the hours I spent at this spy-hole. The hall was icy cold, and I was always afraid of exciting my mother's suspicions. But there I would watch through the long afternoons, during those months and years, book in hand, tense as a violin string, and vibrating at the touch of your nearness. I was ever near you, and ever tense; but you were no more aware of it than you were aware of the tension of the mainspring of the watch in your pocket, faithfully recording the hours for you, accompanying your footsteps with its unheard ticking, and vouchsafed only a hasty glance for one second among millions. I knew all about you, your habits, the neckties you wore; I knew each one of your suits. Soon I was familiar with your regular visitors, and had my likes and dislikes among them. From my thirteenth to my sixteenth year, my every hour was yours. What follies did I not commit? I kissed the door-handle you had touched; I picked up a cigarette end you had thrown away, and it was sacred to me because your lips had pressed it. A hundred times, in the evening, on one pretext or another, I ran out into the street in order to see in which room your light was burning, that I might be more fully conscious of your invisible presence. During the weeks when you were away (my heart always seemed to stop beating when I saw John carry your portmanteau downstairs), life was devoid of meaning. Out of sorts, bored to death, and in an ill-humour, I wandered about not knowing what to do, and had to take precautions lest my tear-stained eyes should betray my despair to my mother.



I know that what I am writing here is a record of grotesque absurdities, of a girl's extravagant fantasies. I ought to be ashamed of them; but I am not ashamed, for never was my love purer and more passionate than at this time. I could spend hours, days, in telling you how I lived with you though you hardly knew me by sight. Of course you hardly knew me, for if I met you on the stairs and could not avoid the encounter, I would hasten by with lowered head, afraid of your burning glance, hasten like one who is jumping into the water to avoid being singed. For hours, days, I could tell you of those years you have long since forgotten; could unroll all the calendar of your life: but I will not weary you with details. Only one more thing I should like to tell you dating from this time, the most splendid experience of my childhood. You must not laugh at it, for, trifle though you may deem it, to me it was of infinite significance.



It must have been a Sunday. You were away, and your man was dragging back the heavy rugs, which he had been beating, through the open door of the flat. They were rather too much for his strength, and I summoned up courage to ask whether he would let me help him. He was surprised, but did not refuse. Can I ever make you understand the awe, the pious veneration, with which I set foot in your dwelling, with which I saw your world-the writing-table at which you were accustomed to sit (there were some flowers on it in a blue crystal vase), the pictures, the books? I had no more than a stolen glance, though the good John would no doubt have let me see more had I ventured to ask him. But it was enough for me to absorb the atmosphere, and to provide fresh nourishment for my endless dreams of you in waking and sleeping.



This swift minute was the happiest of my childhood. I wanted to tell you of it, so that you who do not know me might at length begin to understand how my life hung upon yours. I wanted to tell you of that minute, and also of the dreadful hour which so soon followed. As I have explained, my thoughts of you had made me oblivious to all else. I paid no attention to my mother's doings, or to those of any of our visitors. I failed to notice that an elderly gentleman, an Innsbruck merchant, a distant family connexion of my mother, came often and stayed for a long time. I was glad that he took Mother to the theatre sometimes, for this left me alone, undisturbed in my thoughts of you, undisturbed in the watching which was my chief, my only pleasure. But one day my mother summoned me with a certain formality, saying that she had something serious to talk to me about. I turned pale, and felt my heart throb. Did she suspect anything? Had I betrayed myself in some way? My first thought was of you, of my secret, of that which linked me with life. But my mother was herself embarrassed. It had never been her way to kiss me. Now she kissed me affectionately more than once, drew me to her on the sofa, and began hesitatingly and rather shamefacedly to tell me that her relative, who was a widower, had made her a proposal of marriage, and that, mainly for my sake, she had decided to accept. I palpitated with anxiety, having only one thought, that of you. " We shall stay here, shan't we?" I stammered out. "No, we are going to Innsbruck, where Ferdinand has a fine villa." I heard no more. Everything seemed to turn black before my eyes. I learned afterwards that I had fainted. I clasped my hands convulsively, and fell like a lump of lead. I cannot tell you all that happened in the next few days; how I, a powerless child, vainly revolted against the mighty elders. Even now, as I think of it, my hand shakes so that I can hardly write. I could not disclose the real secret, and therefore my opposition seemed ill-tempered obstinacy. No one told me anything more. All the arrangements were made behind my back. The hours when I was at school were turned to account. Each time I came home some new article had been removed or sold. My life seemed falling to pieces; and at last one day, when I returned to dinner, the furniture removers had cleared the flat. In the empty rooms there were some packed trunks, and two camp-beds for Mother and myself. We were to sleep there one night more, and were then to go to Innsbruck.



On this last day I suddenly made up my mind that I could not live without being near you. You were all the world to me. I can hardly say what I was thinking of, and whether in this hour of despair I was able to think at all. My mother was out of the house. I stood up, just as I was, in my school dress, and went over to your door. Yet I can hardly say that I went. With stiff limbs and trembling joints, I seemed to be drawn towards your door as by a magnet. It was in my mind to throw myself at your feet, and to beg you to keep me as a maid, as a slave. I cannot help feeling afraid that you will laugh at this infatuation of a girl of fifteen. But you would not laugh if you could realise how I stood there on the chilly landing, rigid with apprehension, and yet drawn onward by an irresistible force; how my arm seemed to lift itself in spite of me. The struggle appeared to last for endless, terrible seconds; and then I rang the bell. The shrill noise still sounds in my ears. It was followed by a silence in which my heart well-nigh stopped beating, and my blood stagnated, while I listened for your coming.



But you did not come. No one came. You must have been out that afternoon, and John must have been away too. With the dead note of the bell still sounding in my ears, I stole back into our empty dwelling, and threw myself exhausted upon a rug, tired out by the four steps as if I had been wading through deep snow for hours. Yet beneath this exhaustion there still glowed the determination to see you, to speak to you, before they carried me away. I can assure you that there were no sensual longings in my mind; I was still ignorant, just because I never thought of anything but you. All I wanted was to see you once more, to cling to you. Throughout that dreadful night I waited for you. Directly my mother had gone to sleep, I crept into the hall to listen for your return. It was a bitterly cold night in January. I was tired, my limbs ached, and there was no longer a chair on which I could sit; so I lay upon the floor, in the draught that' came under the door. In my thin dress I lay there, without any covering. I did not want to be warm, lest I should fall asleep and miss your footstep. Cramps seized me, so cold was it in the horrible darkness; again and again I had to stand up. But I waited, waited, waited for you, as for my fate.



At length (it must have been two or three in the morning) I heard the house-door open, and footsteps on the stair. The sense of cold vanished, and a rush of heat passed over me. I softly opened the door, meaning to run out, to throw myself at your feet. . . . I cannot tell what I should have done in my frenzy. The steps drew nearer. A candle flickered. Tremblingly I held the door-handle. Was it you coming up the stairs?



Yes, it was you, beloved; but you were not alone. I heard a gentle laugh, the rustle of silk, and your voice, speaking in low tones. There was a woman with you. . . .



I cannot tell how I lived through the rest of the night. At eight next morning, they took me with them to Innsbruck. I had no strength left to resist.



* * * *



My boy died last night. I shall be alone once more, if I really have to go on living. To-morrow, strange men will come, black-clad and uncouth, bringing with them a coffin for the body of my only child. Perhaps friends will come as well, with wreaths-but what is the use of flowers on a coffin? They will offer consolation in one phrase or another. Words, words, words! What can words help? All I know is that I shall be alone again. There is nothing more terrible than to be alone among human beings. That is what I came to realise during those interminable two years in Innsbruck, from my sixteenth to my eighteenth year, when I lived with my people as a prisoner and an outcast. My stepfather, a quiet, taciturn man, was kind to me. My mother, as if eager to atone for an unwitting injustice, seemed ready to meet all my wishes. Those of my own age would have been glad to befriend me. But I repelled their advances with angry defiance. I did not wish to be happy, I did not wish to live content away from you; so I buried myself in a gloomy world of self torment and solitude. I would not wear the new and gay dresses they bought for me. I refused to go to concerts or to the theatre, and I would not take part in cheerful excursions. I rarely left the house. Can you believe me when I tell you that I hardly got to know a dozen streets in this little town where I lived for two years? Mourning was my joy; I renounced society and every pleasure, and was intoxicated with delight at the mortifications I thus superadded to the lack of seeing you. Moreover, I would let nothing divert me from my passionate longing to live only for you. Sitting alone at home, hour after hour and day after day, I did nothing but think of you, turning over in my mind unceasingly my hundred petty memories of you, renewing every movement and every time of waiting, rehearsing these episodes in the theatre of my mind. The countless repetitions of the years of my childhood from the day in which you came into my life have so branded the details on my memory that I can recall every minute of those long-passed years as if they had been but yesterday.



Thus my life was still entirely centred in you. I bought all your books. If your name was mentioned in the newspaper, the day was a red-letter day. Will you believe me when I tell you that I have read your books so often that I know them by heart? Were anyone to wake me in the night and quote a detached sentence, I could continue the passage unfalteringly even to-day, after thirteen years. Your every word was Holy Writ to me. The world existed for me only in relationship to you. In the Viennese newspapers I read the reports of concerts and first nights, wondering which would interest you most. When evening came, I accompanied you in imagination, saying to myself: " Now he is entering the hall; now he is taking(, his seat." Such were my fancies a thousand times, simply because I had once seen you at a concert.



Why should I recount these things? Why recount the tragic hopelessness of a forsaken child? Why tell it to you, who have never dreamed of my admiration or of my sorrow? But was I still a child? I was seventeen; I was eighteen; young fellows would turn to look after me in the street, but they only made me angry. To love anyone but you, even to play with the thought of loving anyone but you, would have been so utterly impossible to me, that the mere tender of affection on the part of another man seemed to me a crime. My passion for you remained just as intense, but it changed in character as my body grew and my senses awakened, becoming more ardent, more physical, more unmistakably the love of a grown woman. What had been hidden from the thoughts of the uninstructed child, of the girl who had rung your door bell, was now my only longing. I wanted to give myself to you.



My associates believed me to be shy and timid. But I had an absolute fixity of purpose. My whole being was directed towards one end-back to Vienna, back to you. I fought successfully to get my own way, unreasonable, incomprehensible, though it seemed to others. My stepfather was well-to-do, and looked upon me as his daughter. I insisted, however, that I would earn my own living, and at length got him to agree to my returning to Vienna as employee in a dressmaking establishment belonging to a relative of his.



Need I tell you whither my steps first led me that foggy autumn evening when, at last, at last, I found myself back in Vienna? I left my trunk in the cloakroom, and hurried to a tram. How slowly it moved!



Every stop was a renewed vexation to me. In the end, I reached the house. My heart leapt when I saw a light in your window. The town, which had seemed so alien, so dreary, grew suddenly alive for me. I myself lived once more, now that I was near you, you who were my unending dream. When nothing but the thin, shining pane of glass was between you and my uplifted eyes, I could ignore the fact that in reality I was as far from your mind as if I had been separated by mountains and valleys and rivers. Enough that I could go on looking at your window. There was a light in it; that was your dwelling; you were there; that was my world. For two years I had dreamed of this hour, and now it had come. Throughout that warm and cloudy evening I stood in front of your windows, until the light was extinguished. Not until then did I seek my own quarters.

Evening after evening I returned to the same spot. Up to six o'clock I was at work. The work was hard, and yet I liked it, for the turmoil of the show-room masked the turmoil in my heart. The instant the shutters were rolled down, I flew to the beloved spot. To see you once more, to meet you just once, was all I wanted; simply from a distance to devour your face with my eyes. At length, after a week, I did meet you, and then the meeting took me by surprise, I was watching your window, when you came across the street. In an instant, I was a child once more, the girl of thirteen. My cheeks flushed. Although I was longing to meet your eyes, I hung my head and hurried past you as if someone had been in pursuit. Afterwards I was ashamed of having fled like a schoolgirl, for now I knew what I really wanted. I wanted to meet you; I wanted you to recognise me after all these weary years, to notice me, to love me.



For a long time you failed to notice me, although I took up my post outside your house every night, even when it was snowing, or when the keen wind of the Viennese winter was blowing. Sometimes I waited for hours in vain. Often, in the end, you would leave the house in the company of friends. Twice I saw you with a woman, and the fact that I was now awakened, that there was something new and different in my feeling towards you, was disclosed by the sudden heart-pang when I saw a strange woman walking confidently with you arm-in-arm. It was no surprise to me, for I had known since childhood how many such visitors came to your house; but now the sight aroused in me a definite bodily pain. I had a mingled feeling of enmity and desire when I witnessed this open manifestation of fleshly intimacy with another woman. For a day, animated by the youthful pride from which, perhaps, I am not yet free, I abstained from my usual visit; but how horrible was this empty evening of defiance and renunciation! The next night I was standing, as usual, in all humility, in front of your window; waiting, as I have ever waited, in front of your closed life.



At length came the hour when you noticed me. I marked your coining from a distance, and collected all my forces to prevent myself shrinking out of your path. As chance would have it, a loaded dray filled the street, so that you had to pass quite close to me. Involuntarily your eyes encountered my figure, and immediately, though you had hardly noticed the attentiveness in my gaze, there came into your face that expression with which you were wont to look at women. The memory of it darted through me like an electric shock-that caressing and alluring glance, at once enfolding and disclothing, with which, years before, you had awakened the girl to become the woman and the lover. For a moment or two your eyes thus rested on me, for a space during which I could not turn my own eyes away, and then you had passed. My heart was beating so furiously that I had to slacken my pace; and when, moved by irresistible curiosity, I turned to look back, I saw that you were standing and watching me. The inquisitive interest of your expression convinced me that you had not recognised me. You did not recognise me, either then or later. How can I describe my disappointment?



This was the first of such disappointments: the first time I had to endure what has always been my fate; that you have never recognised me. I must die, unrecognised. Ah, how can I make you understand my disappointment? During the years at Innsbruck I had never ceased to think of you. Our next meeting in Vienna was always in my thoughts. My fancies varied with my mood, ranging from the wildest possibilities to the most delightful. Every conceivable variation had passed through my mind. In gloomy moments it had seemed to me that you would repulse me, would despise me, for being of no account, for being plain, or importunate. I had had a vision of every possible form of disfavour, coldness, or indifference. But never, in the extremity of depression, in the utmost realisation of my own unimportance, had I conceived this most abhorrent of possibilities-that you had never become aware of my existence.. I understand now (you have taught me!) that a girl's or a woman's face must be for a man something extraordinarily mutable. It is usually nothing more than the reflexion of moods which pass as readily as an image vanishes from a mirror. A man can readily forget a woman's face, because she modifies its lights and shades, and because at different times the dress gives it so different a setting. Resignation comes to a woman as her knowledge grows. But I, who was still a girl, was unable to understand your forgetfulness. My whole mind had been full of you ever since I had first known you, and this had produced in me the illusion that you must have often thought of me and waited for me. How could I have borne to go on living had I realised that I was nothing to you, that I had no place in your memory. Your glance that evening, showing me as it did that on your side there was not even a gossamer thread connecting your life with mine, meant for me a first plunge into reality, conveyed to me the first intimation of my destiny.



You did not recognise me. Two days later, when our paths again crossed, and you looked at me with an approach to intimacy, it was not in recognition of the girl who had loved you so long and whom you had awakened to womanhood; it was simply that you knew the face of the pretty lass of eighteen whom you had encountered at the same spot two evenings before. Your expression was one of friendly surprise, and a smile fluttered about your lips. You passed me as before, and as before you promptly slackened your pace. I trembled, I exulted, I longed for you to speak to me. I felt that for the first time I had become alive for you; I, too, walked slowly, and did not attempt to evade you. Suddenly, I heard your step behind me. Without turning round, I knew that I was about to hear your beloved voice directly addressing me. I was almost paralysed by the expectation, and my heart beat so violently that I thought I should have to stand still. You were at my side. You greeted me cordially, as if we were old acquaintances-though you did not really know me, though you have never known anything about my life. So simple and charming was your mariner that I was able to answer you without hesitation. We walked along the street, and you asked me whether we could not have supper together. I agreed. What was there I could have refused you?



We supped in a little restaurant. You will not remember where it was. To you it will be one of many such. For what was I? One among hundreds; one adventure, one link in an endless chain. What happened that evening to keep me in your memory? I said very little, for I was so intensely happy to have you near me and to hear you speak to me. I did not wish to waste a moment upon questions or foolish words. I shall never cease to be thankful to you for that hour, for the way in which you justified my ardent admiration. I shall never forget the gentle tact you displayed. There was no undue eagerness, no hasty offer of a caress. Yet from the first moment you displayed so much friendly confidence that you would have won me even if my whole being had not long ere this been yours. Can I make you understand how much it meant to me that my five years of expectation were so perfectly fulfilled?



The hour grew late, and we came away from the restaurant. At the door you asked me whether I was in any hurry, or still had time to spare. How could I hide from you that I was yours? I said I had plenty of time. With a momentary hesitation, you asked me whether I would not come to your rooms for a talk. "I shall be delighted," I answered with alacrity, thus giving frank expression to my feelings. I could not fail to notice that my ready assent surprised you. I am not sure whether your feeling was one of vexation or pleasure, but it was obvious to me that you were surprised. To-day, of course, I understand your astonishment. I know now that it is usual for a woman, even though she may ardently desire to give herself to a man, to feign reluctance, to simulate alarm or indignation. She must be brought to consent by urgent pleading, by lies, adjurations, and promises. I know that only professional prostitutes are accustomed to answer such an invitation with a perfectly frank assent-prostitutes, or simple-minded, immature girls. How could you know that, in my case, the frank assent was but the voicing of an eternity of desire, the uprush of yearnings that had endured for a thousand days and more?



In any case, my manner aroused your attention; I had become interesting to you. As we were walking along together, I felt that during our conversation you were trying to sample me in some way. Your perceptions, your assured touch in the whole gamut of human emotions, made you realise instantly that there was something unusual here; that this pretty, complaisant girl carried a secret about with her.



Your curiosity had been awakened, and your discreet questions showed that you were trying to pluck the heart out of my mystery. But my replies were evasive. I would rather seem a fool than disclose my secret to you.



We went up to your flat. Forgive me, beloved, for saying that you cannot possibly understand all that it meant to me to go up those stairs with you-how I was mad, tortured, almost suffocated with happiness. Even now I can hardly think of it without tears, but I have no tears left. Everything in that house had been steeped in my passion; everything was a symbol of my childhood and its longing. There was the door behind which a thousand times I had awaited your coming; the stairs on which I had heard your footstep, and where I had first seen you; the judas through which I had watched your comings and goings; the door-mat on which I had once knelt; the sound of a key in the lock, which had always been a signal to me. My childhood and its passions were nested within these few yards of space. Here was my whole life, and it surged around me like a great storm, for all was being fulfilled, and I was going with you, I with you, into your, into our house. Think (the way I am phrasing it sounds trivial, but I know no better words) that up to your door was the world of reality, the dull everyday world which had been that of all my previous life. At this door began the magic world of my childish imaginings, Aladdin's realm. Think how, a thousand times, I had had my burning eyes fixed upon this door through which I was now passing, my head in a whirl, and you will have an inkling-no more-of all that this tremendous minute meant to me.



I stayed with you that night. You did not dream that before you no man had ever touched or seen my body. How could you fancy it, when I made no resistance, and when I suppressed every trace of shame, fearing lest I might betray the secret of my love. That would certainly have alarmed you; you care only for what comes and goes easily, for that which is light of touch, is imponderable. You dread being involved in anyone else's destiny. You like to give yourself freely to all the world-but not to make any sacrifices. When I tell you that I gave myself to you as a maiden, do not misunderstand me. I am not making any charge against you. You did not entice me, deceive me, seduce me. I threw myself into your arms; went out to meet my fate. I have nothing but thankfulness towards you for the blessedness of that night. When I opened my eyes in the darkness and you were beside me, I felt that I must be in heaven, and I was amazed that the stars were not shining on me. Never, beloved, have I repented giving myself to you that night. When you were sleeping beside me, when I listened to your breathing, touched your body, and felt myself so near you, I shed tears for very happiness.



I went away early in the morning. I had to go to my work, and I wanted to leave before your servant came. When I was ready to go, you put your arm round me and looked at me for a very long time. Was some obscure memory stirring in your mind; or was it simply that my radiant happiness made me seem beautiful to you? You kissed me on the lips, and I moved to go. You asked me: "Would you not like to take a few flowers with you?" There were four white roses in the blue crystal vase on the writing-table (I knew it of old from that stolen glance of childhood), and you gave them to me. For days they were mine to kiss.



We had arranged to meet on a second evening. Again it was full of wonder and delight. You gave me a third night. Then you said that you were called away from Vienna for a time-oh, how I had always hated those journeys of yours I-and promised that I should hear from you as soon as you came back. I would only give you a poste-restante address, and did not tell you my real name. I guarded my secret. Once more you gave me roses at parting-at parting.



Day after day for two months I asked myself. . . . No, I will not describe the anguish of my expectation and despair. I make no complaint. I love you just as you are, ardent and forgetful, generous and unfaithful. I love you just as you have always been. You were back long before the two months were up. The light in your windows showed me that, but you did not write to me. In my last hours I have not a line in your handwriting, not a line from you to whom my life was given. I waited, waited despairingly. You did not call me to you, did not write a word, not a word . . . .



* * * *



My boy who died yesterday was yours too. He was your son, the child of one of those three nights. I was yours, and yours only from that time until the hour of his birth. I felt myself sanctified by your touch, and it would not have been possible for me then to accept any other man's caresses. He was our boy, dear; the child of my fully conscious love and of your careless, spendthrift, almost unwitting tenderness. Our child, our son, our only child. Perhaps you will be startled, perhaps merely surprised. You will wonder why I never told you of this boy; and why, having kept silence throughout the long years, I only tell you of him now, when he lies in his last sleep, about to leave me for all time never, never to return. How could I have told you? I was a stranger, a girl who had shown herself only too eager to spend those three nights with you. Never would you have believed that I, the nameless partner in a chance encounter, had been faithful to you, the unfaithful. You would never, without misgivings, have accepted the boy as your own. Even if, to all appearance, you had trusted my word, you would still have cherished the secret suspicion that I had seized an opportunity of fathering upon you, a man of means, the child of another lover. You would have been suspicious. There would always have been a shadow of mistrust between you and me. I could not have borne it. Besides, I know you. Perhaps I know you better than you know yourself. You love to be care-free, light of heart, perfectly at ease; and that is what you understand by love. It would have been repugnant to you to find yourself suddenly in the position of father; to be made responsible, all at once, for a child's destiny. The breath of freedom is the breath of life to you, and you would have felt me to be a tie. Inwardly, even in defiance of your conscious will, you would have hated me as an embodied claim. Perhaps only now and again, for an hour or for a fleeting minute, should I have seemed a burden to you, should I have been hated by you. But it was my pride that I should never be a trouble or a care to you all my life long. I would rather take the whole burden on myself than be a burden to you; I wanted to be the one among all the women you had intimately known of whom you would never think except with love and thankfulness. In actual fact, you never thought of me at all. You forgot me.



I am not accusing you. Believe me, I am not complaining. You must forgive me if for a moment, now and again, it seems as if my pen had been dipped in gall. You must forgive me; for my boy, our boy, lies dead there beneath the flickering candles. I have clenched my fists against God, and have called him a murderer, for I have been almost beside myself with grief. Forgive me for complaining. I know that you are kindhearted, and always ready to help.



You will help the merest stranger at a word. But your kindliness is peculiar. It is unbounded. Anyone may have of yours as much as lie can grasp with both hands. And yet, I must say it, your kindliness works sluggishly. You need to be asked. You help those who call for help; you help from shame, from weakness, and not from sheer joy in helping. Let me tell you openly that those who are in affliction and torment are not dearer to you than your brothers in happiness. Now, it is hard, very hard, to ask anything of such as you, even of the kindest among you. Once, when I was still a child, I watched through the judas in our door how you gave something to a beggar who had rung your bell. You gave quickly and freely, almost before he spoke. But there was a certain nervousness and haste in your manner, as if your chief anxiety were to be speedily rid of him; you seemed to be afraid to meet his eye. I have never forgotten this uneasy and timid way of giving help, this shunning of a word of thanks. That is why I never turned to you in my difficulty. Oh, I know that you would have given me all the help I needed, in spite of your doubt that my child was yours. You would have offered me comfort, and have given me money, an ample supply of money; but always with a masked impatience, a secret desire to shake off trouble. I even believe that you would have advised me to rid myself of the coming child. This was what I dreaded above all, for I knew that I should do whatever you wanted. But the child was all in all to me. It was yours; it was you reborn-not the happy and care-free you, whom I could never hope to keep; but you, given to me for my very own, flesh of my flesh, intimately intertwined with my own life. At length I held you fast; I could feel your life-blood flowing through my veins; I could nourish you, caress you, kiss you, as often as my soul yearned. That was why I was so happy when I knew that I was with child by you, and that is why I kept the secret from you. Henceforward you could not escape me; you were mine.



But you must not suppose that the months of waiting passed so happily as I had dreamed in my first transports. They were full of sorrow and care, full of loathing for the baseness of mankind. Things went hard with me. I could not stay at work during the later months, for my stepfather's relatives would have noticed my condition, and would have sent the news home. Nor would I ask my mother for money; so until my time came I managed to live by the sale of some trinkets. A week before my confinement, the few crown-pieces that remained to me were stolen by my laundress, so I had to go to the maternity hospital. The child, your son, was born there, in that asylum of wretchedness, among the very poor, the outcast, and the abandoned. It was a deadly place. Everything was strange, was alien. We were all alien to one another, as we lay there in our loneliness, filled with mutual hatred, thrust together only by our kinship of poverty and distress into this crowded ward, reeking of chloroform and blood, filled with cries and moaning. A patient in these wards loses all individuality, except such as remains in the name at the head of the clinical record. What lies in the bed is merely a piece of quivering flesh, an object of study. . . .



I ask your forgiveness for speaking of these things. I shall never speak of them again. For eleven years I have kept silence, and shall soon be dumb for evermore. Once, at least, I had to cry aloud, to let you know how dearly bought was this child, this boy who was my delight, and who now lies dead. I had forgotten those dreadful hours, forgotten them in his smiles and his voice, forgotten them in my happiness. Now, when he is dead, the torment has come to life again; and I had, this once, to give it utterance. But I do not accuse you; only God, only God who is the author of such purposeless affliction. Never have I cherished an angry thought of you. Not even in the utmost agony of giving birth did I feel any resentment against you; never did I repent the nights when I enjoyed your love; never did I cease to love you, or to bless the hour when you came into my life. Were it necessary for me, fully aware of what was coming, to relive that time in hell, I would do it gladly, not once, but many times.



Our boy died yesterday, and you never knew him. His bright little personality has never come into the most fugitive contact with you, and your eyes have never rested on him. For a long time after our son was born, I kept myself hidden from you. My longing for you had become less overpowering. Indeed, I believe I loved you less passionately. Certainly, my love for you did not hurt so much, now that I had the boy. I did not wish to divide myself between you and him, and so I did not give myself to you, who were happy and independent of me, but to the boy who needed me, whom I had to nourish, whom I could kiss and fondle. I seemed to have been healed of my restless yearning for you. The doom seemed to have been lifted from me by the birth of this other you, who was truly my own. Rarely, now, did my feelings reach out towards you in your dwelling. One thing only-on your birthday I have always sent you a bunch of white roses, like the roses you gave me after our first night of love. Has it ever occurred to you, during these ten or eleven years, to ask yourself who sent them? Have you ever recalled having given such roses to a girl? I do not know, and never shall know. For me it was enough to send them to you out of the darkness; enough, once a year, to revive my own memory of that hour.



You never knew our boy. I blame myself to-day for having hidden him from you, for you would have loved him. You have never seen him smile when he first opened his eyes after sleep, his dark eyes that were your eyes, the eyes with which he looked merrily forth at me and the world. He was so bright, so lovable. All your lightheartedness, and your mobile imagination were his likewise-in the form in which these qualities can show themselves in a child. He would spend entranced hours playing with things as you play with life; and then, grown serious, would sit long over his books. He was you, reborn. The mingling of sport and earnest, which is so characteristic of you, was becoming plain in him; and the more he resembled you, the more I loved him. He was good at his lessons, so that he could chatter French like a magpie. His exercise books were the tidiest in the class. And what a fine, upstanding little man he was! When I took him to the seaside in the summer, at Grado, women used to stop and stroke his fair hair. At Semmering, when be was toboganing, people would turn round to gaze after him. He was so handsome, so gentle, so appealing.



Last year, when he went to college as a boarder, he began to wear the collegiates' uniform of an eighteenth century page, with a little dagger stuck in his belt-now he lies here in his shift, with pallid lips and crossed hands.



You will wonder how I could manage to give the boy so costly an upbringing, how it was possible for me to provide for him an entry into this bright and cheerful life of the well-to-do. Dear one, I am speaking to you from the darkness. Unashamed, I will tell you. Do not shrink from me. I sold myself. I did not become a street-walker, a common prostitute, but I sold myself. My friends, my lovers, were wealthy men. At first I sought them out, but soon they sought me, for I was (did you ever notice it?) a beautiful woman. Every one to whom I gave myself was devoted to me. They all became my grateful admirers. They all loved me-except you, except you whom I loved.

Will you despise me now that I have told you what I did? I am sure you will not. I know you will understand everything, will understand that what I did was done only for you, for your other self, for your boy. In the lying-in hospital I had tasted the full horror of poverty. I knew that, in the world of the poor, those who are down-trodden are always the victims. I could not bear to think that your son, your lovely boy, was to grow up in that abyss, amid the corruptions of the street, in the poisoned air of a slum. His delicate lips must not learn the speech of the gutter; his fine, white skin must not be chafed by the harsh and sordid underclothing of the poor. Your son must have the best of everything, all the wealth and all the lightheartedness of the world. He must follow your footsteps through life, must dwell in the sphere in which you had lived.



That is why I sold myself. It was no sacrifice to me, for what are conventionally termed "honour" and "disgrace" were unmeaning words to me. You were the only one to whom my body could belong, and you did not love me, so what did it matter what I did with that body? My companions' caresses, even their most ardent passion, never sounded my depths, although many of them were persons I could not but respect, and although the thought of my own fate made me sympathise with them in their unrequited love. All these men were kind to me; they all petted and spoiled me; they all paid me every deference. one of them, a widower, an elderly man of title, used his utmost influence until he secured your boy's nomination to the college. This man loved me like a daughter. Three or four times he urged me to marry him. I could have been a countess to-day, mistress of a lovely castle in Tyrol. I could have been free from care, for the boy would have had a most affectionate father, and I should have had a sedate, distinguished, and kindhearted husband. But I persisted in my refusal, though I knew it gave him pain. It may have been foolish of me. Had I yielded, I should have been living a safe and retired life somewhere, and my child would still have been with me. Why should I hide from you the reason for my refusal? I did not want to bind myself. I wanted to remain free-for you. In my innermost self, in the unconscious, I continued to dream the dream of my childhood. Some day, perhaps, you would call me to your side, were it only for an hour. For the possibility of this one hour I reject ed everything else, simply that I might be free to answer your call. Since my first awakening to womanhood, what had my life been but waiting, a waiting upon your will?



In the end, the expected hour came. And still you never knew that it had come! When it came, you were sitting with some friends at the next table, regarding me with an admiring and covetous glance, that glance which had always thrilled me beyond expression. For the first time in ten years you were looking at me again under the stress of all the unconscious passion in your nature. I trembled, and my hand shook so violently that I nearly let my wineglass fall. Fortunately my companions did not notice my condition, for their perceptions were confused by the noise of laughter and music.



Your look became continually more ardent, and touched my own senses to fire. I could not be sure whether you had at last recognised me, or whether your desires had been aroused by one whom you believed to be a stranger. My cheeks were flushed, and I talked at random. You could not help noticing the effect your glance had on me. You made an inconspicuous movement of the head, to suggest my coming into the anteroom for a moment. Then, having settled your bill, you took leave of your associates, and left the table, after giving me a further sign that you intended to wait for me outside. I shook like one in the cold stage of a fever. I could no longer answer when spoken to, could no longer control the tumult of my blood. At this moment, as chance would have it, a couple of negroes with clattering heels began a barbaric dance, to the accompaniment of their own shrill cries. Everyone turned to look at them, and I seized my opportunity. Standing up, I told my friend that I would be back in a moment, and followed you.



You were waiting for me in the lobby, and your face lighted up when I came. With a smile on your lips, you hastened to meet me. It was plain that you did not recognise me, neither the child, nor the girl of old days. Again, to you, I was a new acquaintance.



"Have you really got an hour to spare for me?" you asked in a confident tone, which showed that you took me for one of the women whom anyone can buy for a night. "Yes," I answered; the same tremulous but perfectly acquiescent "Yes" that you had heard from me in my girlhood, more than ten years earlier, in the darkling street. "Tell me when we can meet," you said. "Whenever you like," I replied, for I knew nothing of shame where you were concerned. you looked at me with a little surprise, with a surprise which had in it the same flavour of doubt mingled with curiosity which you had shown before when you were astonished at the readiness of my acceptance. "Now?" you enquired, after a moment's hesitation. "Yes," I replied," let us go."



I was about to fetch my wrap from the cloak-room, when I remembered that my Brunn friend had handed in our things together, and that he had the ticket. It was impossible to go back and ask him for it, and it seemed to me even more impossible to renounce this hour with you to which I had been looking forward for years. My choice was instantly made. I gathered my shawl around me, and went forth into the misty night, regardless not only of my cloak, but regardless, likewise, of the kindhearted man with whom I had been living for years-regardless of the fact that in this public way, before his friends, I was putting him into the ludicrous position of one whose mistress abandons him at the first nod of a stranger. Inwardly, I was well aware how basely and ungratefully I was behaving towards a good friend. I knew that my outrageous folly would alienate him from me forever, and that I was playing havoc with my life. But what was his friendship, what was my own life to me when compared with the chance of again feeling your lips on mine, of again listening to the tones of your voice. Now that all is over and done with I can tell you this, can let you know how I loved you. I believe that were you to summon me from my death-bed, I should find strength to rise in answer to your call.
        

#16  Re: 晚秋的麦场             Go Back
There was a taxi at the door, and we drove to your rooms. Once more I could listen to your voice, once more I felt the ecstasy of being near you, and was almost as intoxicated with joy and confusion as I had been so long before. But I cannot describe it all to you, bow what I had felt ten years earlier was now renewed as we went up the well-known stairs together; how I lived simultaneously in the past and in the present, my whole being fused as it were with yours. In your rooms, little was changed. There were a few more pictures, a great many more books, one or two additions to your furniture-but the whole had the friendly look of an old acquaintance. On the writing-table was the vase with the roses-my roses, the ones I had sent you the day before as a memento of the woman whom you did not remember, whom you did not recognise, not even now when she was close to you, when you were holding her hand and your lips were pressed on hers. But it comforted me to see my flowers there, to know that you had cherished something that was an emanation from me, was the breath of my love for you.



You took me in your arms . Again I stayed with you for the whole of one glorious night. But even then you did not recognise me. While I thrilled to your caresses, it was plain to me that your passion knew no difference between a loving mistress and a meretrix, that your spendthrift affections were wholly concentrated in their own expression. To me, the stranger picked up at a dancing-hall, you were at once affectionate and courteous. You would not treat me lightly, and yet you were full of an enthralling ardour. Dizzy with the old happiness, I was again aware of the two-sidedness of your nature, of that strange mingling of intellectual passion with sensual, which had already enslaved me to you in my childhood. In no other man have I ever known such complete surrender to the sweetness of the moment. No other has for the time being given himself so utterly as did you who, when the hour was past, were to relapse into an interminable and almost inhuman forgetfulness. But I, too, forgot myself. Who was I, lying in the darkness beside you? Was I the impassioned child of former days; was I the mother of your son; was I a stranger? Everything in this wonderful night was at one and the same time entrancingly familiar and entrancingly new. I prayed that the joy might last forever.



But morning came. It was late when we rose, and you asked me to stay to breakfast. Over the tea, which an unseen hand had discreetly served in the dining-room, we talked quietly. As of old, you displayed a cordial frankness; and, as of old, there were no tactless questions, there was no curiosity about myself. You did not ask my name, nor where I lived. To you I was, as before, a casual adventure, a nameless woman, an ardent hour which leaves no trace when it is over. You told me that you were about to start on a long journey, that you were going to spend two or three months in Northern Africa. The words broke in upon my happiness like a knell: "Past, past, past and forgotten!" I longed to throw myself at your feet, crying: "Take me with you, that you may at length came to know me, at length after all these years!" But I was timid, cowardly, slavish, weak. All I could say was: "What a pity." You looked at me with a smile-"Are you really sorry?"



For a moment I was as if frenzied. I stood up and looked at you fixedly. Then I said: "The man I love has always gone on a journey." I looked you straight in the eyes. "Now, now," I thought, "now he will recognise me!" You only smiled, and said consolingly: " One comes back after a time." I answered: "Yes, one comes back, but one has forgotten by then."



I must have spoken with strong feeling, for my tone moved you. You, too, rose, and looked at me wonderingly and tenderly. You put your hands on my shoulders: "Good things are not forgotten, and I shall not forget you." Your eyes studied me attentively, as if you wished to form an enduring image of me in your mind. When I felt this penetrating glance, this exploration of my whole being, I could not but fancy that the spell of your blindness would at last be broken. "He will recognise me! He will recognise me!" My soul trembled with expectation.



But you did not recognise me. No, you did not recognise me. Never had I been more of a stranger to you than I was at that moment, for had it been otherwise you could not possibly have done what you did a few minutes later. You had kissed me again, had kissed me passionately. My hair had been ruffled, and I had to tidy it once more. Standing at the glass, I saw in it-and as I saw, I was overcome with shame and horror-that you were surreptitiously slipping a couple of banknotes into my muff. I could hardly refrain from crying out; I could hardly refrain from slapping your face. You were paying me for the night I had spent with you, me who had loved you since childhood, me the mother of your son. To you I was only a prostitute picked up at a dancing-hall. It was not enough that you should forget me; you had to pay me, and to debase me by doing so.

I hastily gathered up my belongings, that I might escape as quickly as possible; the pain was too great. I looked round for my hat. There it was, on the writing-table, beside the vase with the white roses, my roses. I had an irresistible desire to make a last effort to awaken your memory. "Will you give me one of your white roses?"-"Of course," you answered, lifting them all out of the vase. "But perhaps they were given you by a woman, a woman who loves you?"-"Maybe," you replied, "I don't know. They were a present, but I don't know who sent them; that's why I'm so fond of them." I looked at you intently: "Perhaps they were sent you by a woman whom you have forgotten!"



You were surprised. I looked at you yet more intently. "Recognise me, only recognise me at last!" was the clamour of my eyes. But your smile, though cordial, had no recognition in it. You kissed me yet again, but you did not recognise me.



I hurried away, for my eyes were filling with tears, and I did not want you to see. In the entry, as I precipitated myself from the room, I almost cannoned into John, your servant. Embarrassed but zealous, he got out of my way, and opened the front door for me. Then, in this fugitive instant, as I looked at him through my tears, a light suddenly flooded the old man's face. In this fugitive instant, I tell you, he recognised me, the man who had never seen me since my childhood. I was so grateful, that I could have kneeled before him and kissed his hands. I tore from my muff the banknotes with which you had scourged me, and thrust them upon him. He glanced at me in alarm-for in this instant I think he understood more of me than you have understood in your whole life. Everyone, everyone, has been eager to spoil me; everyone has loaded me with kindness. But you, only you, forgot me. You, only you, never recognised me.



My boy, our boy, is dead. I have no one left to love; no one in the world, except you. But what can you be to me-you who have never, never recognised me; you who stepped across me as you might step across a stream, you who trod on me as you might tread on a stone; you who went on your way unheeding, while you left me to wait for all eternity? Once I fancied that I could hold you for my own; that I held you, the elusive, in the child. But he was your son. In the night, he cruelly slipped away from me on a journey; he has forgotten me, and will never return. I am alone once more, more utterly alone than ever. I have nothing, nothing from you. No child, no word, no line of writing, no place in your memory. If anyone were to mention my name in your presence, to you it would be the name of a stranger. Shall I not be glad to die, since I am dead to you? Glad to go away, since you have gone away from me?



Beloved, I am not blaming you. I do not wish to intrude my sorrows into your joyful life. Do not fear that I shall ever trouble you further. Bear with me for giving way to the longing to cry out my heart to you this once, in the bitter hour when the boy lies dead. Only this once I must talk to you. Then I shall slip back into obscurity, and be dumb towards you as I have ever been. You will not even hear my cry so long as I continue to live. Only when I am dead will this heritage come to you from one who has loved you more fondly than any other has loved you, from one whom you have never recognised, from one who has always been awaiting your summons and whom You have never summoned. Perhaps, perhaps, when you receive this legacy you will call to me; and for the first time I shall be unfaithful to you, for I shall not hear you in the sleep of death. Neither picture nor token do I leave you, just as you left me nothing, for never will you recognise me now. That was my fate in life, and it shall be my fate in death likewise. I shall not summon you in my last hour; I shall go my way leaving you ignorant of my name and my appearance. Death will be easy to me, for you will not feel it from afar. I could not die if my death were going to give you pain.



I cannot write any more. My head is so heavy; my limbs ache; I am feverish. I must lie down. Perhaps all will soon be over. Perhaps, this once, fate will be kind to me, and I shall not have to see them take away my boy. . . . I cannot write any more. Farewell, dear one, farewell. All my thanks go out to you. What happened was good, in spite of everything. I shall be thankful to you till my last breath. I am so glad that I have told you all. Now you will know, though you can never fully understand, how much I have loved you; and yet my love will never be a burden to you. It is my solace that I shall not fail you. Nothing will be changed in your bright and lovely life. Beloved, my death will not harm you. This comforts me.



But who, ah who, will now send you white roses on your birthday? The vase will be empty. No longer will come that breath, that aroma, from my life, which once a year was breathed into your room.



I have one last request-the first, and the last. Do it for my sake. Always on your birthday-a day when one thinks of oneself-get some roses and put them in the vase. Do it just as others, once a year, have a Mass said for the beloved dead. I no longer believe in God, and therefore I do not want a Mass said for me. I believe in you alone. I love none but you. Only in you do I wish to go on living-just one day in the year, softly, quietly, as I have always lived near you. Please do this, my darling, please do it. . . . My first request, and my last . . . . Thanks, thanks. . . . I love you, I love you. . . . Farewell. . . .



* * * *



The letter fell from his nerveless hands. He thought long and deeply. Yes, he had vague memories of a neighbour's child, of a girl, of a woman in a dancing hall-all was dim and confused, like the flickering and shapeless view of a stone in the bed of a swiftly running stream. Shadows chased one another across his mind, but would not fuse into a picture. There were stirrings of memory in the realm of feeling, and still he could not remember. It seemed to him that he must have dreamed of all these figures, must have dreamed often and vividly-and yet they had only been the phantoms of a dream. His eyes wandered to the blue vase on the writing-table. It was empty. For years it had not been empty on his birthday. He shuddered, feeling as if an invisible door had been suddenly opened, a door through which a chill breeze from another world was blowing into his sheltered room. An intimation of death came to him, and an intimation of deathless love. Something welled up within him; and the thought of the dead woman stirred in his mind, bodiless and passionate, like the sound of distant music.


林海《琵琶語》
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IuJRDmYielI&feature=related


        



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